Taranaki police officers charged with manslaughter following man's death in custody

Three Taranaki police officers have been charged with manslaughter after a man died in their custody last year.

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The 55-year-old died in custody while at the Hawera Police Station early on June 1, 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

It's alleged the officers were grossly negligent in their duty of care, partially leading to his death.

The 55-year-old died in custody while at the Hawera Police Station early on June 1, 2019.

"All three officers have been stood down from their duties and an employment process will follow in due course," police said in a statement today.

The three police officers have been granted interim name suppression after appearing in the New Plymouth District Court.

They've been remanded on bail to reappear on June 26.

The decision to charge the three officers came after a "thorough investigation and consideration of legal advice from the New Plymouth Crown Solicitor and a Queen’s Counsel", police say.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says today's charges reflect "the gravity of the circumstances".

"Any incident involving a loss of life in police custody is taken very seriously," he said in a statement.

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"This will be a difficult time for the victim’s family and the wider police organisation. I extend my sympathies to the man’s family."

It's been more than a year since the man's death and Mr Nash says there's been a lot of work by a police investigation team to get to this stage.

"This has been a challenging case to work on and today’s court appearance is the result of detailed work behind the scenes."

Last year, police said they had been called to a family harm incident in Hawera late at night when they arrested a drunk man for assault. 

He was taken to Hawera Police Station but during a routine check, he was found unresponsive.

Police staff performed CPR until emergency services arrived but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim's family have been told about the decision to lay charges, police say.

The Police Association says it's supporting the three officers.

"Any death of a person in Police custody is a tragic situation for the family of the deceased and in this case, for the officers involved and their families," Police Association President Chris Cahill says.